California Teams: Touchdown or Fumble?



As the 100th NFL season begins, which teams will prosper and who will collapse?

Shivani R., Writer

The score is 13-3. Los Angeles Rams, kicker, Greg Zuerlein, looks at the yellow goal post. He takes two steps to the right and angles his body to the side just a bit. He has his right foot ready, takes three steps forward to the ball, and kicks it with all of his strength. Unfortunately, the ball goes wide to the left and misses. With only 0:05 seconds left in the game, the New England Patriots win Super Bowl LIII. Just like that, the Patriots win it all. And the Rams lose it all. 

There are thirty-two teams in the NFL. Every year, teams inexplicably shift in their conference rankings. They could be the best in the league the year before, and now they are the worst. Some teams thrive during the offseason, while others fall apart. 

“Those streaks will break,” said ESPN’s Bill Barnwell. “There are some talented, successful teams on this list and though I think they won’t hit their high-water marks of 2018, they are still likely playoff teams.” 

One team that appeared to suffer in the offseason was the Los Angeles Rams. Yes, they made it to the Super Bowl last year, but imminent injuries will test their strength throughout the 16-game season. The Rams have a strong offense, but their defense has declined through players who have retired or left for other teams. A return to the Super Bowl is not going to be easy.

“The sky isn’t falling in Los Angeles, and there are going to be weeks were the Rams look downright unbeatable, but the preponderance of evidence suggests that we’ll see them fall off their record of 13-3,” said Barnwell.

“The best acquisition was wide receiver Antonio Brown, who will be able to fill the shoes of Cooper. Oakland also signed veterans Trent Brown, Lamarcus Joyner and Tyrell Willams, all of whom are expected to start in Week 1,” said Bleacher Report’s Marcus Mosher. 

The Oakland Raiders have overcome multiple position gaps from last year. They signed wide receiver Antonio Brown in March. Brown has a reputation of a hard worker who never stops pushing himself. They also signed Trent Brown on the offensive line, Lamarcus Joyner as safety and Tyrell Williams at wide receiver. Each player is anticipated to bring improvement to the field, and all four players will start once the season begins. In 2018, the Raiders had one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL, with only thirteen sacks. Have they improved? Not really. But the Patriots were tied with another team for second to last in sacks, and they still played in Super Bowl LIII. With these key additions, the team is hoping for a better outcome this season. 

The other team in LA, the Chargers, has a success rate that is hard to predict because they potentially have one of the best offenses and defenses in the league. Even with that, they always seem to be lacking a piece of the puzzle. They miss necessary field goals; find unexpected interceptions, then quickly go 4 and out; and regularly suffer injuries right before a crucial game in the season. The Chargers have to stop playing like a collection of individual players and work to compete as a team. If they succeed, it’s inevitable that they will move far into the playoffs. 

“With even more dramatic success, the 2018 Chargers seemed to bond, even more, reaching a point where they appeared to be tighter than the laces on a football,” said the Los Angeles Times’s Jeff Miller. 

“On average, roughly half of the NFL playoff teams change on a year-to-year basis. This postseason, for example, only five teams—the New Orlean Saints, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles–repeated as playoff participants.” says, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox. 

Each year NFL teams move unpredictably from success to failure. Local teams work to develop their playbooks to improve their chances for the upcoming season. 32 teams have ambition for Super Bowl LIV, yet only one will bring home the coveted Lombardi Trophy.